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Some tips for Agile DevOps transformation

Lot of companies start on the Agile transformation and find it very difficult. Some even go back to their old process. I have seen this in lot of "large" companies who have "established" process which they are following for many years.

Process control

Most of these companies have lots of process, checklists and control to manage the "work" which is then  manged by complex hierarchy of "mangers".  Many feel empowered by this complex multi-layer organizational hierarchy. I always wondered how actual works gets done, if any,  in such environment. Such companies  will be slow and costly and will end up like dinosaurs. An Agile/DevOps transformation for  such companies is very difficult.

The people connection

In today's knowledge industry people are the most critical and important part of any company.
The old process thrives with rigid rule and checklists. They focus on finding tools or solutions to meet the objective usually ignoring the people part.
Agile works differently by decentralizing the execution by empowering small teams which is at odds with such companies existing norms.
Agile works best when teams are empowered to learn by experimentation.  There is no failure as long as people learn from their experimentation.  The "control" process will never allow experimentation and this learning.

Tools, Process and culture

The biggest failure of so called "Agile Coaches/Transformation consultants and companies" is that they focus on the process, frameworks and tools, rather than the  existing organisational culture. This culture and people drives the behaviors. For a successful transformation this has to be changed.

Change is hard and it will not happen fast. In most organization there will be lot of people who will resist this change. For many the concept of Agile and DevOps will be new and the might feel that this new process will erode their power. They might even see this as a threat to their jobs.   It takes a  lot of effort, training, coaching and mentoring to make permanent changes in culture which could sustain the transformation.

Based on my experience i will suggest to start with these
  1. Start small so that failure doesn't "kills" any future discussion/adoption 
  2. Identify team/product who genuinely wants to change 
  3. Involve all stakeholders and train them or at least get their "blessings" 
  4. Don't fall for the consultant trap and  start all the "x"Ops together. 
  5. Create a small cross functional team - ideally 5-7 members
  6. Don't create big team for bigger project - 
  7. Keep your teams intact don't break them apart , bring work to team
  8. Assign full time people to team. It is better to have 1 person with 90% allocation rather than 3 people with 30% allocations.
  9. Scale your process to multiple teams/products
    • There are different scaling models for scaling Agile and DevOps practices to multiple teams
    • Try not to use any of the "frameworks" unless you have to.
    •  The best transformations i have seen are with the teams who grew organically keeping the Agile and DevOps principles 
  10. Keep SDLC simple and it should undergo periodic changes
  11. If scrum doesn't work experiment with Kanban or  create something new based on agile principles 
  12. Create a "fail-safe" ecosystem where team can fail safely and learn from it 
  13. Focus on automation and other ways of reducing technical debts. Ideally all the manual steps can be automated.
  14. Reduce the cycle time by implementing DevOps
  15. Identify short term and long term objectives for Agile and DevOps
    • This could be as simple as reducing the build time by 20 % 
    • or reduce the overall cycle time by 10 days
    • or reduce the number of manual tickets by 40 %
    • or reducing the residual bug by 30 %
  16. Focus on continuous improvement and not on tools or semantics of process
    • once you achieve the initial target review/update the goals
    • celebrate all the wins
    • learn from the "failures" and take corrective actions
  17. Get the help of an experienced coach who is willing to work with your team considering the unique culture and team dynamics you have


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